Is it just me, or is it kind of embarrassing to see lame-duck Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and a couple of little-known United Conservative Party MLAs from rural Alberta hanging around the Toronto Transit Commission’s subway station at Yonge and Bloor trying to tout the bright lights of Wild Rose Country? 

Upstairs from the Yonge and Dundas TTC station: It’s not Times Square, but it’s not exactly Cowtown either (Photo: Karm Gosal/Google.com/Maps).

The Alberta Government has spent a lot of money papering over the TTC’s big subway station at Yonge and Bloor streets in Toronto with advertisements hailing the advantages, real and imagined, of life in Alberta.

For example, according signs lining the steps leading up to the street from the subway, Alberta has “AFFORDABLE HOMES” (true, at least compared to Toronto or Vancouver) and “NIGHTLIFE AND CULTURE” (maybe not so much).

For the next month, weary commuters can feast their bleary eyes on these truthy factoids as they hurry up to street level at Yonge and Bloor and make their way to their Dickensian workplaces in the towers of Toronto’s downtown. 

Yesterday morning, the man who is still Alberta’s premier for a couple more weeks brought along UCP MLAs Miranda Rosin and R.J. Sigurdson to hold a press conference in the subway with him to tell folks that Alberta is Calling.

Ms. Rosin is from Banff Kananaskis, where she is renowned for her “STOP the COVID concentration camps” proclamation on social media. Mr. Sigurdson represents the Highwood riding south of Calgary.

Downstairs at the Yonge and Bloor station (Photo: BlogTO.com).

Presumably higher-profile UCP MLAs were otherwise occupied trying to get on the good side of Danielle Smith, the candidate favoured to replace Mr. Kenney when the leadership race votes are counted on Oct. 6. 

Which subway station hosted the three Albertans’ stunt seems to be in some dispute, and the government’s news release was not clear. Some news reports said Yonge and Dundas. Others said Yonge and Bloor. The pictures looked like Yonge and Bloor to me, but, really … whatever

Hope the Wild Rose trio remembered that Yonge Street – said to be the longest street in the world – is pronounced Young

Since all that subway signage seems to have turned out to be Mr. Kenney’s political swan song – at least for the short, unhappy Alberta portion of his career – he’s milking it like a Prairie dairy farmer before he’s put out to pasture. 

And under the circumstances, who can blame him? Hope he got a chance to take a break and look for work before they jetted back to Alberta. 

Joe Clark, former Canadian prime minister and proud son of High River, is no longer mentioned in this post. For the explanation, see the correction below (Photo: Found on Twitter, creator not named).

If they made it to the street at Yonge and Dundas the night before their hard morning of underground evangelizing about Alberta, I’m sure Ms. Rosin and Mr. Sigurdson were impressed by the bright lights on the surface, Canada’s modest response to Times Square, only without the Naked Cowboy who lends a Calgary touch to the real thing in New York.

In the government’s press release, Mr. Kenney insisted the $2.6-million Alberta is Calling campaign – devoted mainly to wooing members of what the premier used to call the Laptop Class in Toronto and Vancouver – is money well spent. 

“The incredible interest in the campaign website, as well as engagement across our social media channels, shows that this campaign is landing with Canadians,” the premier said in his canned quote in the release. “They are clearly seeing the benefits of life in Alberta, and they want to find out more.”

No statistics were provided, however, to back up this claim. 

In reality, it doesn’t matter, because the campaign is directed more at Alberta voters who may be contemplating voting for former premier Rachel Notley’s New Democratic Party the next time they find themselves in a polling booth. 

The campaign’s strategy, presumably devised before Mr. Kenney fared poorly in a leadership review vote last spring, can be summed up as, “Look busy, here come the voters!”

This phase of the Alberta is Calling campaign is also supposed to include “more high-impact out-of-home tactics, including a newspaper wrap” in Vancouver, the press release says. 

Presumably that newspaper wrap won’t be on a Monday. 

Yesterday, the owner of the Vancouver Sun and Province newspapers, announced that nine of its moribund rags including the B.C. papers will no longer print actual paper editions on Mondays

Don’t worry, though, the slow-motion trainwreck masquerading as English Canada’s largest newspaper chain assured its dwindling readership, they’ll still make a pretend e-paper version of their flagging publications every Monday, and their websites will continue to operate.

Four Alberta newspapers – the Calgary Herald, Calgary Sun, Edmonton Journal and Edmonton Sun – will also lose their Monday editions, as will the Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa Sun and Montreal Gazette

Former newspaper journalists are now making book on when Postmedia – which given the size and depth of its publications nowadays should really be rechristened the Flyer Force – completely stops printing on paper because … what’s the point anymore? 

CORRECTION: A longtime friend who for many years has been a resident of High River reminds me that the bustling community on the Highwood River is nevertheless located in the Livingstone-Macleod Riding, ineptly represented by Roger Reid. Mr. Reid, of Claresholm, continues to wish to serve his riding in the capacity of MLA, a significant inconvenience for Ms. Smith, who is a resident of High River. Joe Clark’s hometown is about 10 kilometres south of Mr. Sigurdson’s Highwood Riding. AlbertaPolitics.ca regrets the geographical confusion and the mean reference to Mr. Clark. DJC

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38 Comments

  1. I’m not sure if all Albertans quite realize what a caricature Kenney is of all the negative things easterners and west coasters sometimes associate with Alberta. Really, he is the last person who should be trying to sell this province to them (or maybe second last to certain UCP leadership candidates who are likely to be even more repulsive to the rest of the country, if they get into power). However, I suppose Kenney needs something to do to make himself feel important in what may be the twilight of his political career.

    I also still think another purpose to this is Kenney trying to burnish his image with the CPC. I wouldn’t be surprised if he somehow pops up to run in a Federal by election in a year or so. Perhsps against his better judgement, I have a feeling Poilievre has a soft spot for the old dog and Kenney will be out at ethnic community banquets sometime again in the GTA in the future, pretending as if his awful Alberta detour was a bad dream that never really happened.

    Actually, I think the billboards could have some impact, if Alberta would quit producing crazier and more virulent forms of conservatism. It is true home prices in Alberta are much more affordable than in the GTA and wages here are good particularly in the times energy prices are higher.

    The Postmedia seems to be continuing on with their long agonizing march to irrelevance. While I have mixed feelings about that, they have become mostly an echo chamber for Conservative talking points. They seem to be aspiring to be the Canadian version of Fox news, except without the big audience. I suspect they will have even less influence on the next election than they did on the last one. On that note, aren’t elections often held on Mondays?

    1. For heaven’s sake, Dave, he’s their’s! He’s from Oakville, granted by way of some duckburg in Saskatchewan. And I’d bet the price of a cappuccino at my neighbourhood Blenz coffee shop that he’ll scuttle back to Ottawa as soon as he decently can. DJC

      1. I do find it a bit hard to keep track of all the places Kenney has lived – Ontario, Saskatchewan, California, Alberta for a bit, back to Ontario for a long time and back to Alberta for a little while. I think I got it mostly right. So, it is probably correct the place he has spent the most time in is Ontario (Oakville and Ottawa). So we have an eastern carpet bagger conservative (Kenney) pretending to be a westerner and now a westerner (Poilievre) pretending to be an easterner and lets not forget former their Federal leader Scheer who was another easterner pretending to be a westerner. Those Conservatives are a quite a odd bunch.

  2. I recall that during the 2019 federal election campaign, some brain trust down at CPC HQ came up with the brilliant stroke of genius of having Premier Jason Kenney promote some 28 candidates in Ontario. Of course, the campaign had sidelined Premier Doug Ford because he was, then, widely hated in Ontario. And for some reason, the HQ believed that Kenney was some kind of super-genius hero who could turn anything into a means to crush the Liberals in GTA. After 27 out of the 28 CPC candidates were defeated, Kenney was revealed to be pretty much a paper tiger and sent back to Alberta.

    Some years later, Kenney is back in Toronto and extolling on the virtues of packing up and moving to Alberta. The “laptop class”, the “new entrepreneurs”, the tech-savvy will all come to Alberta’s God-given green and pleasant land and begin anew. Of course, they will have to ignore the raging Bible thumpers, COVID-idiots, and Antivaxxers, who seem to be all over the province, but I’m sure Ontario has more than its share of that special brand of loony.

    In the end, this is all about Kenney trying to look relevant, along with maybe the only UCP MLAs he can trust these days.

    Meanwhile, it’s beginning to look like Alberta is about to collapse into a state of insanity, as the insane take over the asylum. Now that it appears that the next Premier will be Danielle Straitjacket, there’s no doubt that she will declare Alberta the freest place on earth by making all crimes legal, while defunding the police. After all, FreeDUMB hates the cops, so why not? Now that there’s a strong chance that the next Atty. Gen supports and defends armed insurrection against Ottawa, who knows what kind of idiocy is in the offing?

    Come to Alberta and Stay for the Dark Comedy. Now, that’s a slogan.

    1. Just Me, I don’t recall whether the CPC campaign managers in 2019 asked Kenney to endorse Ontario candidates—or whether he showed up on his own. Unlikely he’d stick his foot in without an invitation, but this is Lord Jason, God’s gift to the Right, that we’re talking about. He has a chronic case of foot-in-mouth disease. It may go into remission after (if) he retires from politics.

      The heiress apparent to the white throne of Oilberduh, Queen Dannie, seems to be having carefully-disguised second thoughts about her sovereignty-association play. She’ll write it after “consultation” with the UCP caucus. (If she consulted a constitutional lawyer, she’d have to abandon the project—and any support from the FreeDumbs.) Fortunately, the rest of the leader-wannabes seem a little more familiar with reality—except Todd Loewen. His recent comments about “net-zero is a waste of money” and “of COURSE we need our own cops!” (both paraphrases) make me wonder where he learns about life, the universe and everything. We’re living in interesting times….

      Finally, I must quibble with two minor issues in your comment. In the list of things for Toronto immigrants to ignore, you left out the FreeDumb Convoy Neighourhood Tours (blaring horns are absolutely required. You gotta problem with that?!). Also, let me slightly revise your proposed election slogan: “UCP Alberta. Come for the Bitumen. Stay for the Dark Comedy.” The laptop classes will be heading for the Maritimes any second now.

  3. I have lived in both cities. Calgary is not only far more affordable, it is far more safe. Shootings and stabbings are now a daily occurrence in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). Additionally, driving in and out of Toronto is a nightmare. Plus Calgary has a better hockey team (although that may be dating the Flames with faint praise).

    1. Mike: I have lived in both cities too, as well as several others, and I would suggest your claim that Calgary is safer than Toronto is largely based on perception, not reality, although I certainly agree that driving in and out of Toronto is a nightmare. But, as I’m sure many Torontonians would say, why bother leaving? As for gun crime, it’s a problem throughout Canada. The most recent comparable statistics I could find in a hurry were for 2017, so they are a bit out of date. The rate of firearm-related violent crime in Toronto was given by Statistics Canada as 35.7 per 100,000. The comparable rate for Calgary was better, but not enough to write home about, 29.9 per 100,000. Edmonton is about the same. Those figures paled by comparison to other major cities on the Prairies: Regina, 45.7; Saskatoon, 48.1; Winnipeg, 58.4. Moreover, if you think running away from the city might make you safer, it might in Ontario, but it won’t in the west where firearms related crime is consistently higher in rural areas than urban areas. This is most pronounced in Alberta. DJC

  4. Recently visited Toronto and was amazed by the vibrant street life late into the evening, the busy shops, the choices offered to residents and visitors. Drop a millennial into YYC and they’ll be shocked by an empty downtown after 6 pm and very few affordable housing options unless you travel 20 kms outside the core. Add to that a likely Smith government and more F*UCK Trudeau truck stickers….. why would you move here? Oh, and did I mention the anti-mask protesters outside Shoppers in Kensington yesterday? Seriously.

    1. Drop a person into the downtown core after 6pm and they’ll think they are in a third world country. I think you can tell a lot about a society by how those at the bottom are treated.

      At least we can take some consolation from the fact that maintaining a homeless population inside literally one of the 10 richest nations on Earth enables us to coerce working class people into giving a huge percentage of their income to their landlord – would YOU pay 60% of your earnings to rent/mortgage if you didn’t know you could be made homeless? Of course not! Keeping a tiny percentage of the working class homeless saves the owning class from having to trick the taxpayer into paying people to whip their wage slaves – sherrifs are a much more cost-effective way to induce labour compliance than overseers. If you feel unsafe downtown, remember that the war on drugs will give us a pretext to incarcerate pretty much all the folks you think are scary in the downtown core sooner or later. Much cheaper and more ethical to put someone in a prison cell than to give them treatment, shelter and assistance. It’s like Prosperity Jesus said – “Hardworking individuals who have made rational decisions and secured at least a 14% ROI will inherit the Earth.”

      1. Very well put, all I will add is that the rentier class makes sure to donate bipartisan in alberta; so it’s very unlikely anything other than direct action will change the situation either.

        1. I think/hope Canadians are able to understand that the renting class does more to restrict their freedom than the government ever did. Let’s be real, are Canadians limited more by the things their government won’t let them do, or the things they can’t afford to do? These tragically misinformed far-right yahoos running their mouths about freedom have their metaphorical guns pointed directly at their own feet.

  5. The news about the demise of Monday newspapers got lost in the 24/7 coverage of royals, royals in motorcades, royals standing in silence and a leaky royal pen. Print media forgot that they were supposed to guard democracy (but really to make money from advertising), instead of promoting its demise. Now it’s the beginning of their own demise. How ironic. They serve no purpose. So be it. Sorry to the reporters who tried.

    If the royal coverage had gone on much longer, we might have missed Putin’s nuclear threat, and the potential annihilation of millions of people. All that for coverage of one person’s funeral. Celebrity worship is the sorry state of media now. World War III? Meh.

    1. Print media hasn’t attempted to protect democracy, or given more than lip service to the public good, in decades. We shoulda never made it legal for wealthy individuals to buy as many media outlets as they wanted, it was folly in real time and is insanity in hindsight. I think it must be hard for young people today to understand that being a reporter used to be seen as an ethical and even heroic calling. Even a lot of our fictional heroes were reporters, like Clark Kent or Peter Parker. Last one of those I’m aware of was April O’Neill in the early 80s. Pretty sure that archetype would be laughed off a cinema screen if it was dusted off and trotted out today. Been a long damn time since reporters could be expected to contribute positively to society (not because they’re bad people, but because they are paid employees of the exact individuals most directly responsible for undermining and pillaging our society, so if they won’t do their part to help their boss do bad things, they get let go and replaced with someone who will).

      Stick-tap to those individuals who have managed to make positive contributions to our infosphere (like this blog’s author). Being a “good reporter” from inside of an institution like Postmedia would (at best) be difficult, stressful, unrewarding and likely shortlived.

  6. Sort of out of context, a comment from a very perceptive woman on the CTV2 channel show at 6 p.m. [bad memory about the name of that programme, sorry]: not much has been forthcoming about the split in the UCP shown in the Kenney leadership vote and subsequent railings against Smith from most of the “leadership” of that party. Could this mean votes going elsewhere, or not going anywhere?

  7. Alberta is calling. What exactly will the UCP be giving people who come here? A damaged public education and healthcare system. Infrastructure that isn’t well kept. The possibility of losing their CPP, for a very bad provincial pension plan. I could go on. That’s not worth it.

  8. I haven’t forgotten the oilmen from the east who told me they were leaving because they didn’t like the way Albertans were being treated like morons by these fake conservatives. The higher wages and much higher cost of living wasn’t worth it, they were going home and to hell with Alberta. They were from Newfoundland and Nova Scotia mostly.

    1. Alan K. Spiller: I wouldn’t blame them for wanting to leave Alberta. If Danielle Smith became premier of Alberta, I think a lot more people will be leaving Alberta.

      1. Anonymous Lawyers are warning that she may put seniors in financial ruin, yet who is supporting her? Seniors of course. Like with Klein these fools will put us all in a “Horrific Mess” as Lougheed called it and these seniors aren’t smart enough to understand it.

  9. I was thinking lately that if the date of the leadership review was left as originally planned for fall of 2022 rather than changing it to the April 2022, Jason Kenney would still be premier, given all that improved economy and another O&G gusher. And perhaps we would not have to worry about lunatics taking over the asylum.

  10. “Kanney” would have better luck selling raw hamburger in recycled PPE driven east in the back of his 1/2 ton out of an alley off Yonge . Most recognise a serial deluded career politician who never actually was able to judge any situation. Run away, Run away.

  11. Morning everyone. A couple lame jokes to start: What do you call it when the privately owned propaganda empires masquerading as “news outlets” slash their publishing by 20%?

    A good start.

    If a propogandist, the billionaire who owns them, and one of the lobbyists who enable them are all defenestrated from a great height, which of them will hit the ground first?

    No one cares, as long as they all hit the ground.

    Finally, one observation that is funnier than both those “jokes” combined – Kenny’s spending Albertans’ tax dollars trying to attract immigrants to Alberta who will be hated by his voters and are extremely likely to passionately oppose policies Jason Kenney supports. I wonder how his voters feel about those taxes they hate so much being spent to lure a bunch of these woke elite gatekeepers from the big city to Alberta? What if they start voting? Jeez, what if they vote to take down statues of John A, or bring in gun control, or reduce pollution, or protect the rights of non-cisgendered and/or non-white people, or protect abortion, or get rid of Alberta’s “stand your ground” law, or *shudder* that dastardly moustache-twirling baby-eating Trudeau-loving commie Rachel Notley?

    I love the idea of the far right losing their own stupid culture war by spending money to import a bunch of those “wokies” they love so much to “contaminate” society with their “incompatible values”.

  12. Well, just no. The reason the laptop and latte class flock to T.O is that there is already a critical mass of them in the big smoke. High costs not withstanding. Alberta is really the sticks, carpets still roll up at 6 at night. No night life. And tech geeks, maybe Vancouver would be second place? So it ain’t happening in Warburg, Alberta. Facts are what they are.

    1. I suspect that Mr. Olsen may qualify for some sort of government-sponsored award for his frugal “re-use” of other’s images and logos over the years. Perhaps the dude who is Minister of Women could help – they’re good at giving awards.

  13. I’ve lived here just over twenty years and at no time have I ever felt more unwelcome and thought about which province I would like to move to next then in ucpea Alberta. Mostly coming from born and raised Albertan males and a few others, also males. Nothing quite like begging the same people you’ve been blaming for all of your problems for the last three years to now help you out. How many taxpayer gifted holidays can ucpea members take between now and the election? Just wait and see.

    1. Boy have you got it right. It would have been fun to see him go to Quebec and try it after all the sarcastic comments they have received by Albertans. They haven’t forgotten the Ralph Klein stupidity. “ Let those eastern bastards freeze in the dark” and I don’t blame them.

  14. https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/other/bell-kenney-unpopular-to-the-end-a-lesson-for-pierre-poilievre/ar-AA12a647?ocid=entnewsntp&cvid=6d881765737d4e609acdb804264164eb

    You would never guess this article was written by a “journalist” for a “newspaper” that were so far up JK’s butt they received sunlight by email. I think my favourite excerpt is:

    “The blue truck, man-of-the-people shtick was just that.
    A gimmick. A posturing. A con to suck in the suckers.”

    Selective amnesia tragically besets the wealthy and well-off at the most convenient times. Will scientists ever find a cure?

    Mr. Bell has forgotten having been one of the suckers who got sucked in by that con, or about his, and Postmedia’s, role in helping other suckers get sucked in. Without a trace of self-awareness, he pivots from piling on JK to hoping PP learns from this. Gosh, what lessons does he think Skippy might draw from /JKLOL’s political implosion? You don’t think maybe he sees some similarities in how they do business, do you? Nah, JK was a con for suckers but PP is totally different!… somehow. In closing he make a few weak attacks against JT at the end of the propaganda piece. Sorry, did I say “propaganda piece?” I meant “news article.” Slip of the tongue, no idea what I was thinking. Probably something about the Fox Newses of the world being staffed by little Eichmanns. And also maybe something about the incredible lack of wisdom and ethics being shown in making it legal and profitable to pour poison into the voting public’s ear. And I’m for sure thinking about how our species is inching daily closer to self-extinction as a result of acting on the absurd beliefs we proudly and defiantly embrace. By the time things are so bad that the people who find Skippy convincing can’t deny there is a problem, it’s going to be far too late to do anything about it.

  15. What marketing genius recommended pasting ads to the risers of a stairway? Ever notice that most people look at their feet as they go up the stairs? Only when there’s almost nobody in the station will anyone have time to read the dumb signs. (DJC, I notice there’s nobody on the stairs. Did you have to wait to take that snapshot? If not, it illustrates my point.)

    When I heard Kenney was in Toronto, I figured he’d skipped out of Oilberduh to do some “government liaison” work with Pierre Poilievre. Just checkin’ in with a good ol’ buddy from the good ol’ days when Harper was King, and the little boys in short pants ruled the roost. I didn’t think of Jason bringing and entourage, but I’m not surprised he did. What is surprising is the back-bench status of his cheering squad.

    As for “incredible interest in the [Alberta is Calling] campaign”, I can imagine one reason people would check it out. Anyone who noticed might wonder, “What the hell is he talking about?” and click the link out of curiosity—or maybe disbelief. Some might wonder if the invite included government-sponsored moving allowances and/or signing bonuses. Some might wonder is the web site is as lame as the presentation. And “incredible interest” in any government advertising might be any quantity greater than zero. I’m not going to bother checking out the social media “engagement.” Could somebody check the ratio between “sign me up” and “yeah, in yer dreams!” posts?

    Re Toastmedia, I’m frankly disappointed it’s lasted this long. Only government subsidies have saved it since Covid. We’d be better off if the chain folded, and at least some papers went independent. I cancelled my Edmonton Journal subscription shortly after the shotgun marriage to the Edmonton Sun. (I’m still looking for an independent news site in Edmonton. Taproot Edmonton at https://edmonton.taproot.news/ seems OK, but alternatives are always welcome.

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